Sanctuary city policy doesn’t have to change

The City does not have to alter its policy for reporting undocumented youths arrested on felonies for possible deportation, even though a new law was adopted to prohibit the practice, according to a memo from the city attorney.

The decision whether to alter The City’s sanctuary policy for undocumented youth ultimately rests with the Juvenile Probation Department and its commission, according to the memo released Wednesday.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera does not take a hard stance one way or another about implementing the policy change, but he does warn of “serious” legal risks if the policy change is made.

Herrera’s legal opinion was criticized by Supervisor David Campos, who introduced the legislation to alter the policy. Campos said the legal opinion was “wrong” and “disappointing” to advocates in the immigrant community who were “hoping that we would get clear guidance from the City Attorney’s Office.”

Campos requested the legal opinion to address Mayor Gavin Newsom’s stance that he would not implement any policy change. The law went into effect Dec. 10 and gives the Juvenile Probation Department, which handles the booking process of juveniles, 60 days for implementation.

While Herrera said the department could change its policy to reflect the law’s intent, he also said it does not have to, and would still be in compliance with the legislation.

The memo is the latest development in the controversial debate about The City’s sanctuary policy, a set of rules governing how city officials handle undocumented immigrants.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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